USA Fencing is proud to announce its 2010 Athletes of the Year.
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For achievements during the 2009-2010 fencing season, USA Fencing has selected Mariel Zagunis as its Female AOY, Gerek Meinhardt as the Male AOY, and the 2010 World Championship Men’s Epee team as the Team of the Year.
For the second year in a row, Mariel Zagunis (25, Beaverton, Ore./Oreg. Fenc. Alliance) was crowned World Champion and also won the overall 2009-2010 FIE World Cup title. In fact, there was not much that Zagunis could have won over the season, and didn't.
Zagunis won the gold in the individual Women’s Saber at the 2010 World Championships in Paris on November 6 with a 15-11 defeat of one of her toughest opponents, Olga Kharlan of the Ukraine. With that win, she sealed the World Cup overall victory by a great margin for the third time in her career.
Zagunis also won the 2010 Pan American Fencing Championships individual saber and anchored the team which won the gold there in San Jose, Puerto Rico in August. She won the 2010 New York World Cup in June plus two more World Cups over the season, and took home two more World Cup silvers and one bronze in 2010.
Gerek Meinhardt (20, San Francisco, Calif./Massialas) became the first US men's foil fencer ever to win a medal at a senior World Championships when he won bronze at the 2010 World Fencing Championships in Paris, France on November 7.
Meinhardt also won individual silver at the 2010 World Junior Fencing Championships in April 2010, and anchored the team which won the Junior Worlds Team gold. He also was a key member of the team which won gold at the 2010 Pan American Fencing Championships in August.
The US Men’s Epee team of Ben Bratton (25, New York, N.Y./Westbrook Found.), Seth Kelsey (29, Brush Prairie, Wash./NYAC) Cody Mattern (29, Tigard, Ore./NorthWest FC), and Ben Ungar (24, Bronx, N.Y./NYAC) pulled off what most in the world never thought possible - a team silver at the World Championships. This is the first time a US men’s epee team has ever earned a medal at an FIE World Championships.
The US team of started the day seeded 12th in the table of 32. The team steadily advanced through the table, staging upsets of 5th-seed China, 4th-seeded Korea, and the top-ranked team in the world, Hungary, before being defeated by the home team, France, in a thrilling match in front of one of the loudest crowds ever assembled in a fencing venue.
The team also won bronze at the 2010 Panamerican Fencing Championships in San Jose, Puerto Rico, and finished 5th in the FIE's end of year World Cup ranking.
The Athletes and Team of the Year were nominated by USA Fencing for the US Olympic Committee’s annual Athlete of the Year recognition. Winners of that award will be announced early this year.